Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Verse 1. - Blessed is the man; literally, blessings are to the man. But the Authorized Version exactly gives the sense (comp. Psalm 2:12). That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly. The margin gives, "or wicked," and this is probably the best rendering of the word used (רשׁעים). The righteous man is first described negatively, under three heads.
(1) He "does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly:" i.e. he does not throw in his lot with the wicked does not participate in their projects or designs;
(2) he standeth not in the way of sinners; i.e. he does not take part in their actions, does not follow the same moral paths; and
(3) he sitteth not in the seat of the scornful; i.e. has no fellowship with them in the "scorn" which they cast upon religion. The word used for scornful (לֵצ) is Solomonian (Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 3:34; Proverbs 13:1), but in the Psalter occurs only in this place.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Verse 2. - But his delight is in the Law of the Lord. The righteous man is not described positively, under two heads.
(1) He delights in the Law (camp. Psalm 109:16, 47, 77; Romans 7:22).
(2) He constantly mediates in it. The "Law" intended - תורה, not התּורה - is probably not the mere Law of Moses, but God's law, as made known to man in any way. Still, the resemblance of the passage to Joshua 1:8 shows the Law of Moses to have been very specially in the writer's thoughts. In his Law doth he meditate day and night; compare, besides Joshua 1:8, the following: Psalm 63:6; Psalm 119:15, 48, 78, 97. Constant meditation in God's Law has characterized all saint.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Verse 3. - And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. The comparison of a man to a. tree is frequent in the Book of Job (Job 8:16, 17; 14:7-10; 15:32, 33, etc.), and occurs once in the Pentateuch (Numbers 24:6). We find it again in Psalm 92:12-14, and frequently in the prophets. The "rivers of water" spoken of (פַּלְגַ־מָיִם) are undoubtedly the "streams" (Revised Version) or "canals of irrigation" so common both in Egypt and in Babylonia, by which fruit trees were planted, as especially date-palms, which need the vicinity of water. That such planting of trees by the waterside was known to the Israelites is evident, both from this passage and from several others, as Numbers 24:6; Ecclesiastes 2:5; Jeremiah 17:8; Ezekiel 17:5, 8, etc. It is misplaced ingenuity to attempt to decide what particular tree the writer had in his mind, whether the palm, or the oleander, or any other, since he may not have been thinking of any particular tree. That bringeth forth his fruit in his season. Therefore not the oleander, which has no fruit, and is never planted in the East, but grows naturally along the courses of streams. His leaf also shall not wither. Compare the contrary threat of Isaiah against the wicked of his time, "Ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water" (Isaiah 1:30). And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper; rather, perhaps, in whatsoever he doeth he shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Verse 4. - The ungodly are not so; or, the wicked (see the comment on ver. 1. But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. "Chaff" is used throughout Scripture as an emblem of what is weak and worthless (see Job 21:18; Psalm 35:5; Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 29:5; Isaiah 33:11; Isaiah 41:15; Jeremiah 23:28; Daniel 2:35; Hosea 13:3; Zephaniah 2:2; Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17). In ancient times it was considered of no value at all, and when corn was winnowed, it was thrown up in the air until the wind had blown all the chaff away (see the representation in the author's 'History of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 163).
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
Verse 5. - Therefore the ungodly (or, the wicked) shall not stand in the judgment. "Therefore," as being chaff, i.e. "destitute of spiritual vitality" (Kay), "the wicked shall not stand," or shall not rise up, "in the judgment," i.e. in the judgment of the last day. So the Targum, Rashi, Dr. Kay, Canon Cook, and others. It is certainly not conceivable that any human judgment is intended by "the judgment" (הַמִּשְׁפָט), and though possibly "all manifestations of God's punitive righteousness are comprehended" (Hengstenberg), yet the main idea must be that the wicked shall not be able to "stand," or" rise up," i.e. "hold up their heads" (Aglen), in the last day. Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. Here the human judgment comes in. Sinners will be cast out, not only from heaven, but also from the Church, or "congregation of the righteous," if not before, at any rate when the "congregation" is finally made up.
For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Verse 6. - For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous. God is said to "know" those of whom he approves, and. on whom he "lifts up the light of his countenance." The wicked he does not "know;" he "casts them out of the sight of his eyes" - "casts them behind his back;" refuses to acknowledge them. God "knows the way of the righteous," and therefore they live and prosper; he does not know the way of the wicked, and therefore the way of the (wicked, or) ungodly shall perish (compare the beginning and end of Psalm 112.).